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Defending Discernment - The Troubler of the Church

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Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. - 2Timothy 2:14-18 (ESV)

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. - 1Timothy 1:18-20 (ESV)

Paul presents a dichotomy here for young Timothy. Present yourself to God as an approved worker who knows how to handle rightly the word of God! False teaching is presented as the opposite to this - irreverent babble! Leading people into more ungodliness. Note here that the bible says such teaching spreads like gangrene! False teaching is like gangrene in the body of Christ. It is infectious. It causes a lack of blood supply! Eventually it may end up with it needing to be cut out of the body. Then note here that Paul names, names! Hymenaeus and Philetus have swerved from the truth of scripture! Their teaching has upset the faith of some. The second set of scriptures finds Paul naming Hymenaeus and Alexander, who have blasphemed God with their false teaching, shipwrecking their own faith. Who are these three people? The bible does not say much more but obviously they were known to the early church and perhaps at some point they were solid in their theology. Was this relevant anymore? No! Paul did not coddle these people. He did not show concern for them over the sheep they were lying to! He had no issue saying their names! Maybe you think this was only because these three were obscure? Try this then:

But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favor of circumcising them. The other Jewish believers also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?" - Galatians 2:11-14 (NIV)

Paul publicly rebuked Peter! Why? Because he was clearly wrong! He was refusing to sit with gentiles for fear of making those that still believed in circumcision upset! This was negatively affecting the other Jewish believers, even Barnabas! Paul even confronted Peter about his false teaching and behavior in the open! Peter would eventually agree and relent. Not satisfied yet? How about John the Baptist?

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. - Matthew 3:7-10 (ESV)

Brood of vipers! Hardly pulling his punches! Mocking their sincerity as well! Mind you, these were the false teachers of the day. They controlled the religion of the day. They very much were like the apostate church today. Joel Osteen, Bill Johnson, Dr. Michael Brown all sit in the desirable seats within religion today. Yet John the Baptist would just scoff at them today. What about Jesus you may be asking? Here are just His words against the false teachers from the seven woes He proclaimed over them in Matthew 23:

┬Ě Tie up heavy burdens for others to carry without lifting a finger to help

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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